College game day is a party but schools remain cautious where they allow alcohol

If television commercials can be believed, then beer and football are as inseparable as hamburgers and french fries. But as thirsty fans pack into the stands of their favorite college team, they might have to go to great lengths to find alcohol to enhance the game-day experience.


Unlike professional sports, college stadiums are a little more cautious about selling alcohol at a game " understandable since the majority of the student body isn't old enough to drink legally. Not every campus is completely dry come game day, as schools have different policies when it comes to alcohol in the stands or in the parking lots around the stadium. Some out-of-state schools like Colorado State University permit sales until halftime.

According to the policies posted at the schools' Web sites or provided by staff, the University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University and the University of Tulsa all prohibit alcohol in the bowl seating of the stadium. Those with a suite are able to bring in alcohol for private consumption only.

"We have a lot of underage individuals at the game, including a lot of our students, which is why we don't allow alcohol in our general seating area," said Gary Shutt, OSU's communications director. "We built suites to accommodate fans that wanted to view the game in that kind of venue, and they have been very popular."

OSU's suites are new to the stadium, with some suites on the south end of the stadium still unfinished at the beginning of the season. According to Shutt, officials are also less worried about behavioral issues that might come up in the suites, since most are occupied by families and corporations, so a more sedate atmosphere generally prevails.

Without options inside the stadium, most football fans have to get their fill while waiting for kickoff. The tailgating area is a long-standing tradition in college football, and although the areas are monitored by campus law enforcement, the fans are given more freedom than inside.

Donald Tomkalski, with TU's athletic communications, said that the school created Hurricane Alley for tailgaters and other fans on their way to the game who want to warm up with a beer.

"Certainly with tailgating, you are relying on the common sense of those that are attending the game and the passion for the school they are coming to see," Shutt said. "It is something we try to monitor, but you have to leave it up to the people to use good judgment, and in most cases, people do act responsibly.

"If there is behavior that needs to be addressed, we address that, but when you have 60,000 people coming to the game, there are things that you might miss, but we do the best we can."

No school official wants to risk community beer bottles circulating through the student section of the stadium, but that still leaves the possibility of minors sneaking a sip at the family suite or students cracking beers out on the parking lot. The University of Central Oklahoma Bronchos cut out that risk entirely by prohibiting alcohol on campus on game day, anywhere.

According to UCO spokesman Charlie Johnson, the ban isn't anything knew or the result of anything more than a school tradition.

"It stems from an administrative decision made a long time ago," he said. "It's a cultural thing. It's always been a family-oriented event where we invite the community to come and enjoy our football games and other events. Alcohol has just not been a part of it, and it continues to be that way."

There is money to be made by selling beer at games outside of the stadium during tailgating or using the availability of alcohol in the suites as a draw for corporate sponsorship. Still, UCO doesn't see the financial benefits as significant enough to change policy.

"Trying to generate revenue has not ever been part of the conversation. It's simply "¦ not been something the university is interested in pursuing," Johnson said. "I wouldn't want to be critical of other people's decision to do what they are going to do, but at UCO, alcohol is just not part of the culture." "Charles Martin    

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